25 Aug Craft Wars: Episode One – The IPA Menace by Tam
Craft Wars: Episode One – The IPA Menace
In a quiet suburb of North Houston,
one ambitious (and very bored) craft beer blogger
decided that the best way to understand the
craft beer concept was to create his own.
What this novice did not understand is that
the delicate process of beer making was not mixing a
few ingredients and hoping for some delicious brew,
but a mixture of art/science and luck.
This is his adventure.
This is Craft Wars.
*(My apologies for not having the text flow upwards, just use your imagination and make light saber noises with your mouth.)
When I joined this little merry band of craft beer enthusiasts, I came aboard with the pretenses of minimal work, an avenue to steer my boredom, and an occasional beer with the guys.
It wasn’t long before I realized that my interest in craft beer had taken a life of its own, and this hobby would soon cause me to commit more personal/financial attention than I would have ever expected. Sound familiar?
Let me give you a quick background about myself before I go any further.
My introduction into the craft brew world was a last minute trip to Conroe to visit the Southern Star Brewery in 2010. This was at the time when there was no tap room or large facility as it is today.
The brewery was but a mere shadow of itself, with its warehouse backdrop, picnic benches, and large industrial style fans to cool its patrons. There in that hot box nestled in backwoods Conroe is where I learned about this dream that so many microbrewers had. I myself would continue this “education of craft” for years in all different states as well as countries before I would ever lay text to site.
*(I will also freely admit that among my peers I am not as much of a “Zealot” for craft beers as the rest of the team are. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a great beer and the history of each brew as well as the brewery but among my priority list of things to do, craft beer does not take precedence in any facet of my personal or social life. This fact alone makes me a unique writer, because I give you my unbiased opinion and not a “Barney” style, politically correct statement to please the masses or breweries.)
It was just a mere six months ago that I decided to proverbially dip my toe into the water and purchase a small craft beer kit that would produce 2 gallons of India Pale Ale; a brew style that I believe to be advanced and is intimidating in itself. The kit was from “Mr. Beer” whose main advertisement for this home brew was its guarantee in ease for beginners; I would later learn that time was more of a factor that ease.
Weeks went by before I opened that kit, perhaps because of my fear of screwing up the beer, or I just didn’t have the time; I don’t remember.
When I did finally open that kit and read the directions, I recall the amount of actual work it would take to create this home beverage, from filtering water, steeping bags of hops, adding the correct amount of sugar, and most importantly sterilizing everything.
I set aside an early evening to accomplish this task, when in fact I needed a full day. It took me around 2-3 hours to purify my water before use. All the while I took advantage of that slow purification process to prep my next steps in sterilizing the large pot I would use to boil and the small barrel I would store the brew in for fermenting.
I would like to say that the process was an easy one, but it required a lot of patience and I may note an extremely messy process to transfer brew to barrel. I believe that I was still cleaning pre-beer residue from my floors for a few days after.
Now that the beer was fermenting, I found myself checking diligently upon my creation as it began its transformation from brown watery mess to IPA. With each new day, my excitement grew and I began to think about how I would share my new hobby out in the world; that’s when the idea hit me. I would create my own “Brewery” and label this beer. Not just any label but a label that would represent me in every facet.
I took a few graphic design tips from our Co-Founder Tony, and began to draft my label as well as the packaging it would come in. Since I recently retired from a career in the military, I decided that only those jargon as well as crude humors would be incorporated. How could I have known the momentum that this project would stir within me? Thus on March 28th 2016, “Gun Closet Brewery” was born and its first bottle of “Charlie Don’t Surf IPA” was created.
Like a seed planted and will one day become an oak tree so did my brewing passion truly begin. I did not stop at this home brew and it’s taken a life of its own, but that’s a story for next time.
Beers to you, Houston! 🍻